An Invasive Snail Species Was Discovered In Luggage At The

Atlanta Airport Thanks To A Pair Of Beagles

(CNN)A pair of beagles discovered two Giant African Snails in the luggage of a passenger arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport, according to US Customs and Border Protection.

Canine comrades Candie and Chipper, members of CBP's "Beagle Brigade," alerted customs officials Sunday to a checked bag from Nigeria at the international baggage claim. Inside were two Giant African Snails -- a particularly invasive species -- and prohibited fruits and vegetables, according to a news release from the CBP.

What's so bad about a couple of snails? This snail species is "one of the most damaging" in the world, according to the US Department of Agriculture, because they reproduce quickly -- about 1,200 eggs in one year -- and eat at least 500 types of plants, including peanuts and melons. They can also cause damage to the structure of plaster and stucco buildings.

And once they are in, it's hard to get them out. When Giant African Snails were first found in southern Florida in the 1960s, it took a decade and $1 million to eradicate them, the USDA said. Eradication efforts are ongoing after the snails were reintroduced in 2011.

"CBP is on the frontline 24/7, searching for anything entering our country that could potentially harm our citizens," Lee Deloatch, the acting area port director for the Atlanta CBP in a statement. "Our beagles sniffing out these snails highlights how valuable our canine members are to protecting the U.S."

The snails were turned over to the USDA for evaluation, and the traveler was not penalized, but was warned about properly declaring pests and agriculture, according to the release.

Los Angeles International Airport inspectors seized an unusually slimy package.  67 live giant African snails that are a popular delicacy across West Africa and used in some Religious ceremonies in Florida.  The snails which are prohibited in the U.S. arrived from Nigeria.  The snails were confiscated July 1, a sample sent to a specialist in Washington, DC, who identified them, as a prohibited species, and the USDA incinerated the snails after they were inspected. 

Thats incinerated, not cooked, no wine was used in the process.

The animals are prohibited in the U.S. because they can carry parasites that are harmful to humans, including one that can lead to meningitis.  The confirmation that a small portion of the giant African land snails infesting Miami-Dade County contain rat lung worm.

Rat lungworm parasite can be found in snails or their “slime” (mucus), and if ingested may cause a form of meningitis. To prevent infection the public is recommended to avoid handling the snails, instead, to call the Division of Plant Industry toll-free helpline at 888-397-1517 to report snail sightings. The good part is that they do not move very fast and are easily caught but make sure your cat or dog doesn’t find them first.

An inspector will be sent to collect the snails. If you do come in contact, like in your house,  wear gloves, thoroughly wash their hands after handling the snails, and avoid touching their hands to their mouths, noses or eyes after handling snails. In addition, it is recommended to carefully wash all produce that may have been in contact with snails before eating. Follow the same  recommendations for Ebola.

These snails are seriously harmful to local plants because they will eat any kind of crop over 500 species, they can get to and in Florida it is more serious. There is already a snail problem in Miami-Dade County, and FDA leaders fear the snails could make their way into Central Florida.  Florida first saw a problem in the 1960s.

They can also threaten your home.  “The first six months of their lives, they primarily eat stucco off the sides of house to build calcium to build their shells stronger.  In the last year and a half, they’ve collected, frozen and killed 150,000 snails from suburban yards scattered around the eastern side of Miami-Dade County and recently fielded its first reported infestation in Broward County.  They reproduce quickly and one snail can hatch 1,200 eggs in a lifetime because they’re hermaphrodites they don’t need a mate.  So telling them to go Frack themselves is a bad idea.  They will, they do, and now have 1200 children.

And they eat hundreds of different types of plants.  The snails have the ability to grow to be 8 inches in length.  The snails are also used in religious ceremonies to predict the future. I can see it now, you eat one and die. Prophesy fulfilled. 

At a little-known government laboratory in South Florida, they keep the snails under lock and key. But giant African land snails are such a threat to humans that the rules say they have to be kept locked away, just in case.  But they are pretty sure the giant African land snails that the state has spent more than $6 million to capture and kill were smuggled in by a religious cult that used the snails' mucus in healing rituals.

Miami's most prominent practitioner of Santeria the government needs to check Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee for snails. "The potential is higher in those areas," said Oba Ernesto Pichardo, of the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye in Hialeah. "All those areas have sufficiently active religious populations with a snail culture.  Charles Stewart, of Hialeah, sometimes known as "El Africano" or "Oloye Ifatoku." Stewart practices a traditional African religion called Ifa Orisha, which is often confused with the Cuban Santeria.

If conditions are too dry, they burrow into the soil and hide. When the rainy season returns, they emerge, like zombies clawing their way out of a grave. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam touted his agency's acquisition of a pair of Labrador retrievers trained to sniff out the pungent scent of the snails' excrement. Cong keeps live snails locked in her lab at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Subtropical Horticulture Research Station in Miami so the dogs can become familiar with the smell.


The Black Widow Spider and the Brown Recluse Spider (aka the tissue eating spider) are just two of our very poisonous and very common species. They can make garden work exciting.  Not to say some Caterpillars, Swarming Hornets, and the African or South American Killer bees won’t make you a mess either.   The Brown Recluse is also known as the tissue eating spider and requires immediate professional help.  No immediate care and you’ll be singing that song with the line,   “part of me, why not take all of me”... extensive surgery might be needed if not taken care of immediately.

“Brown Recluse spiders are the Navy seals, the Green Berets...and the Top Guns of the spider world."  The name "Brown Recluse" describes the color and the habits of this increasingly infamous spider. 

Brown Recluse spiders are one of the few spiders in the United States that are known to be very harmful to humans. They are regarded by some as more dangerous than the Black Widow spider because it is considered a house spider and isn't as simple to identify.   Brown Recluse bite wounds can cause severe tissue damage very quickly (see bite wound photos off-site), so it is essential to learn how to identify this spider and learn how to eradicate Brown Recluses and prevent bite wounds.  

Brown Recluse spiders are both reclusive and nocturnal so they lurk around at night when most people are in bed. For this reason, populations of these spiders often go unnoticed. If a Brown Recluse is seen, they scurry around so quickly that it is difficult to get close enough to identify them.  And if you do, you might well be tempted to squash it with your shoe. 

For this reason, spider traps are immensely helpful and highly recommended by universities. With spider traps, the spider will be caught as it scurries around at night.  Adult Brown Recluse spiders are yellowish-tan to dark brown. They have long, thin gray to dark brown legs covered with very short, dark hairs. Both male and female spiders are similar in appearance and are equally venomous. 

Young Brown Recluse spiders are smaller and somewhat lighter in color. The most distinguishing mark on a brown recluse spider is the presence of a dark brown or black violin or fiddle on its back with the violin's "neck" pointing toward the rear of its body. For this reason, they are sometimes called “violin spiders" or "fiddleback spiders". 

See the pictures and this website, it has a temporary field use kit , this is the latest information, treatment by a qualified entomologist physician so you do not lose arms fingers or legs or possibly your life. Get to a hospital and bring the spider with you if possible for correct identification.  Don’t pet him....


Black widow spiders are shiny black in color and their bodies are round in shape; they have a unique red mark located on the underside of the abdomen that is often described as being “hourglass” in shape. 

Black widow spiders may also have lighter red or white spots on their abdomen and back.  Adults grow to between 1 ½ - 1 3/8 inches in length; females are larger than males. Black widow spiders also have a comb foot- a row of strong, curved bristles located on the hind pair of legs; they use the comb foot to cover their prey in silk.

Do black widow spiders bite?

Black widow spiders do have the ability to bite people, however they are not super aggressive and tend to only bite when they are accidentally trapped, threatened, or handled. A bite from a black widow spider can lead to serious health consequences and medical attention should be sought.

Are black widow spiders venomous?

Yes and no; only the female black widow spiders are venomous, males are not and pose no health risks to people. The female’s venom is strong enough to compromise the nervous system of a person; symptoms can have a quick on-set and may include vomiting, difficulty breathing, chills, perspiration, stomach cramps, and other pains. A bite from a black widow spider is serious but usually doesn’t cause death; the symptoms can be managed by health professionals until they eventually resolved themselves.  Persons with known conditions such as heart or lung ailments, get to a doctor immediately.  Get to a hospital and bring the spider with you if possible for correct identification.

Our world class mosquitoes and ticks can carry Lyme Disease, and it's variants. No longer is the Lyme virus strictly from a DEER tick.   Other ticks can carry it. No longer is it found north of here, cases now found in the South and Florida.  Also they carry the strain that causes Meningitis.  Which is a sometimes fatal swelling of the brain.  You'll need good repellant and a new brain if left untreated. It's characterized by flu-like symptoms. 

One of the major problems with Lyme disease is that it, just like Ebola can effect different folks based on age or physical condition. LD can show up in the body almost in any organ, highly undetectable, can lie dormant for up to three years and the symptoms may mimic or be similar to other disorders. I have two friends with the Lyme Disease and both have been on an ongoing battle for close to five years now. More in an article I am putting together.

And we are faced with the disease carried by mosquitos, the ZIKA virus.  Also the African Killer Bee.


Death by Amoeba:  Keep your nose and mouth closed while swimming. There is a rare Amoeba that infiltrates your body from those nice warm swimming holes in the summer that has killed several children these past years.  Though rare, it is deadly if you come in contact with it.  The problem is there is no way of telling  you have it almost till it is too late 

NOTE: Pinellas County, Florida - Code enforcement officers in Pinellas County now have another tool to fight the swarms of mosquitoes that are common in Florida during the rainy months from May through October.  County commissioners have passed a new ordinance that gives mosquito control the authority to issue citations to people who don't attempt to control mosquito problems on their property. 

The offense is called Harboring Mosquitoes. Under the new ordinance, anything that holds water and attracts mosquito larvae must be eliminated or treated. If not, property owners will get a warning. If they ignore two warnings, property owners will be hit with a $188 fine.  Brilliant!  So we fine 10 people this year, and thirty billion/trillion mosquitoes still get away because of inadequate spraying.  2013: Two more deaths have been attributed to the deadly amoeba brain syndrome.


Plants and some botanicals should be avoided in our state. The usual culprits  such as Poison Ivy, Poison Oak live alongside others with names such as (Latin) Abrus Precatorius, Alamanda Cathartica, Nerium Oleandor, Philodendron Selloum.  

While some require ingesting to do harm, the contact sports type like the IVY and OAK, do come in contact with pets that we don't control at all times.  Dogs can read "POISON IVY" signs.  The most dangerous plant of all is POTUS AMERICANUS, or the "five fingered feel good plant" in conjunction with a heavy and fast automobile.  NOTE: More than a few ounces and you're a dealer and get to share bed-e-by stories with some of the local farmers like Bubba and Jethro.